Thursday, November 17, 2016


Been sort of a busy week and hence I didn't have the time to write a post for last week. The busy life is mainly about going to work and spending the day coping with tiredness (which usually becomes a fail). Weather is getting colder (perfect!), which means also more need for sleeping hours; seems I'm still stuck in the 5 hours range and that's barely enough!

Note: I don't own the image.
This week started off with some sad news; well, for some that is. One of the giants in the world of Cinema and TV passed away: Mahmood Abdul-Aziz [محمود عبدالعزيز]. Probably people who know me very well know pretty well that I don't spend my time in front of TV and didn't go to the movies in ages, not to say spending time watching them on TV. However, this man specifically had me hooked in most of the characters he played. I feel sad indeed, though I don't have a connection to him really or anything; I suppose it's the charisma he owned, and will own even when he is gone from our world. May he rest in peace, Amen.
As for me on the other hand, I had some tasks hanging in the air and was trying to make a good compromise between doing them and coping with life itself…


I was involved in the past weeks in a workshop with our group's leader about the so-called Photo-Story (a.k.a Photo Essay, Essay Photography, Serial Photography). In a nutshell, it is the making of a story from a series of photos (usually ranging between 5 to 12 images). Two weeks passed since the last day of the workshop (which was composed of 2 days with about 3 hours to each). At the end of the workshop we were supposed to give some results or samples of our work with this issue, which was something that took me around 2 weeks to complete. Not because I was lazy alone, but also I needed some accessories from my sisters to complete the idea I had in mind.
The main theme of the idea I had in mind was: a girl's life. Not sure why I picked this topic though but probably it was the first thing that struck me specially after observing some samples in the workshop; it sounds that chronological stories are somewhat the easiest. As per the leader's notes: it is not necessary to include a human in the photo, but it is enough to add a sign of that person. Thus, from that point on, I decided that I should work around it in this way, since I don't like portraiture much. Also, one of the basic instructions was to form the story and the basic elements for the shots and ideas by noting them down; everything should be in writing before catching the camera and starting to work right away. I have to admit though, I was lazy at this point specifically but I've formed all the imagery and ideas in my head and all I needed with the accessories. Meanwhile, I've developed another string of thoughts on implying this idea, and at the end, I've decided to shoot one series in regular camera, and the other to be done in my converted camera and IR filter on lens.

Photo Story One

Series One

This series was shot with a regular camera. My idea was to stabilize the background and keep moving the elements on the steps of the stairway, but unfortunately, because of the lens choice (50mm, which I picked mainly for its f/1.4 capabilities) and the narrow space which I have to work within - all that made it impossible to not tilt the camera upward as I continue shooting the series and going up the steps. Probably I needed something around 40mm or even 30mm, but such a choice is not available (and connecting a teleconverter to my 15mm was not a choice either). Anyway, it seems I was wrong in picking up that lens or even to have a concern about shooting at f/1.4. I guess, now after all this work done, that f/2 ~ f/4 would suffice as well, which makes me consider doing the whole experiment all over again with another lens!

Source: B&H
It was during this session that my Nissin power-pack fell down and got damaged, and now it is fixed with the help of my brother with gratitude. It is a reminder not to attach these stuff to my pants ever! Anyway, I continued to shoot regularly using the regular AA batteries inside the speedlite. I wanted a spotlight effect on every scene, and I've achieved that without attaching any light modifiers to the speedlite, but simply zooming the head to its maximum length (105mm). Remember: Light spreads out in a conic projection, and since I'm too close to my subject here, the cone is going to be short and hence it would act as a spotlight. Carrying the speedlite by hand or a lateral arm and pointing it down was a hassle though.

6 - Series One
Now among all these shots in the series, probably the last shot (6) was a bit philosophical and could carry on many meanings depending on the person who views it and his or her psychology. Personally, my idea with this shot was however a child grows, it remains a child in the view of the parents, and losing them will bring it back to childhood again however old the person is. Some people though might interpret that differently like being an orphan or the child is the king of the house at the end (since the little shoes are at the very topmost step), or even the cycle of life. Not sure if the variety of interpretations is a good or a bad thing, as opinions (as I read before) differ in this field: some say a good shot is the one that picks the right idea for the viewer and that is a sign of a thoughtful photographer, while others argue that the variety in interpretations for a single shot is a sign of creativity (given that composition is executed well). However the opinion is, it seems this series is liked by the leader more than the next one, but he stated it needs a bit of extra work, which I will try to do in the coming weeks!

Photo Story Two

Series Two

This series was more disastrous. It was done in one day and in a haste and had to change many ideas because I couldn't get the proper help back then. The idea for this essay or series is similar to the previous one but expressed differently, and shot differently. Submission of the final results was due the next day so I had no time. This series was done with a converted camera, and because of my haste, I did several mistakes:
  1. One image is not similar to the others in orientation, which somehow made it awkward when presenting and showing the series.
  2. Some of these images were taken with IR filter on lens, and some were taken without (because I simply thought it is there but it wasn't!). 
  3. The shoot was not organized and were not taken in chronological order (and that can cause confusion in the workflow, for me at least). 
  4. Not being able to find a young model made the second shot in the series even more awkward. 
When checking the series, the leader pointed out that he feels there is a gap in the story. Probably it is somewhere between (4) and (5), where (4) symbolizes marriage, and (5) symbolized old age, and probably I should have added something symbolizing Motherhood.

1 - Series Two

The hardest part of shooting with my converted camera is the fact that I can't focus using the viewfinder in a normal way because the IR filter is (typically) opaque, and I can see through only using the LiveView, and in LiveView, focusing was somewhat hard to be done for some reason. All that, was done handheld and without a tripod. Probably the toughest one to be done was 1 - Series Two, where I asked my brother to put his pinky finger into his daughter's hand. The quick movement of the baby and the troublesome focusing with the LiveView had me really, really exhausted. As for some of the shots which were taken without the IR filter on lens, things were fixed using Photoshop to mimic the IR look a bit; these shots after all were taken with a converted camera (i.e. with a full range of spectrum including visible AND infrared). Notably, a friend commented on this series, saying it is more likely to be related to a healthcare topic (e.g. hospital) rather than the life of a girl!


This type of art is promising and probably had more expansion in expressing moods and stories; because not everything should be fit into one picture. The leader of the group says it is one of the most desired fields in contests (but that's not really my concern for now).
It is necessary to write down the ideas and sections of the story (in points if possible) in order to organize the work. From the overall evaluation for the two series above, it seems that a stable background would give and serve a better story line, but of course that depends on the type and nature of the story after all. Also, it seems that a set of images with a constant orientation is better in presentation, or if there must be a change in orientation, I guess it is better to be done in a specific organized manner (e.g. landscape-portrait-landscape... and so on). I'm not sure if there is any generally accepted rule for the orientation in such field of photography, but this is my own observation after all.


So, this post is mainly dedicated for one of the workshops I've been involved in lately. Now with me being back to work it seems a bit harder for me to go further to more workshops in the future but I'll try, with this exhausted body.
There were other experiments but they failed and I'm still looking for a chance to repeat them but with different materials, with hopes that it might be better next time. Meanwhile, I'm getting my probes out trying to sense more and get inspired more for achieving further projects with my camera, indoors.
I can't keep my mind off the idea of having a vacation and travel. I seriously need it with a "great depression" era passing through this country, and yet ironically I can't take the risk just like that under such circumstances. It's like a going on cycle. All I can do for now is indulge in games and camera as much as I can.
Now, I'm sitting even a new goal for myself, after the death of the star, Mahmood Abdul-Aziz. I guess I need to sit for some long hours in front of Youtube and follow up with whatever episodes and series for him posted there (the last series he acted in were published on Youtube as well as being played on TV). May he rest in peace.
Would that be enough to keep my mind off my nostalgia, panic, and depression? We'll see…

The Magician
A Homage

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